Page 184 - Hymerian_2017_18
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 Surrounded. By foreign voices, coming from foreign people on foreign ground. The crowd of Spanish children are chattering away with excitement as they watch the English girl pick up the last of her camping gear and amble down to the beach. That’s me. I’m the English girl. I’m the one walking to the beach. I can feel all the eyes on me, boring into my back in disbelief at what I’m about to do. The challenge: spend the night on the small, jagged island of Aucanada.
Aucanada Island. Home to Aucanada Lighthouse, decommissioned in 1863 after the rotted wooden beams collapsed, crushing the lighthouse keeper Emilio Peligo, aged 67. A week later, a ship - the San Francisco - crashed into the island because the lighthouse was not emitting its crucial light. Officials went over to complain to Peligo, inquiring why the lighthouse
was not working, only to find Peligo’s body. A new lighthouse was installed further up the coast, putting Aucanada Lighthouse out of use. Other than a few local youths, no one has visited the island, due to a number of unexplained disappearances.
I am going to be one of those youths. Being new to this country, it has been hard to make friends. Spending
a night on the island would be the ultimate initiation. Everyone knows the story behind Aucanada. Locals say the disappearances were a result of Peligo’s ghost, that he haunts the island and anyone who visits it. One of the older boys, Carlos, after being dared, went to the island a couple years ago, but when dusk arrived he freaked out and swam back. The current pulled him out to sea and he nearly drowned. Although people made fun of him for being scared, no one has been since. Deep down they knew. They knew something on that island was dangerous - they just didn’t know what. He claims he felt the presence of Peligo, and thought he saw the old man before diving into the unforgiving sea.
Boats aren’t allowed near the island, you have to swim two hundred metres out to it. At low tide, the water
is only waist deep, but as the water rises, the current becomes stronger and anyone stupid enough to try and swim in it is swept out to a soggy death.
It’s time for me to go to the island now, it’s low tide. In about half an hour it will be too high to swim in, and low tide won’t be until 6:27am tomorrow. I step into the water, gripping my camping gear tight as I feel the water slithering through my toes. “Go!” someone shouts from the crowd. I wade further into the water. The Mediterranean water is not warm at the beginning of summer and it steals my breath from me.
Scrambling up the rocks onto the island, I check my watch, 6:27pm, exactly twelve hours. Twelve hours
before I can leave. Twelve hours before I become accepted as a local, as a friend. I turn around, the crowd cheer, and gradually they all disappear into their villas. All but one. Carlos. He told me not to bother, that “it’s not worth it”. At the time, I laughed dismissively, not wanting to seem uncool. But now, alone on the island, with the icy wind wrapping itself around my body, I wish I’d taken him more seriously. I stumble up the remnants of what must have been the path up to the lighthouse. A creak sends daggers through my heart, causing it to pound in my ears, and for a moment I’m paralysed.
Relief, a fuzzy numbness, rushes through my body, leaving my legs tingling. It was an old sign post swaying slightly in the wind. Barely legible, in blood red paint, peeling off the termite ridden wood, is the word Faro. Faro means lighthouse, I think. “When you see the sign, stick to the path, it will lead you to the lighthouse”. These words play in my mind on repeat, like a broken record. “Stick to the path.” Curious as to why it seemed so imperative to stick to the path, I asked. I wish I hadn’t. They told me that there are ditches you can fall into that you can’t escape from. I had told myself they were trying to scare me, it was an attempt to scupper my success. But now, staring into the darkness, I would believe that anything was hiding amongst the trees, lurking in the shadows.
I continue up the path, determined to think about anything else. It doesn’t take long. Rounding the corner, I tumble straight into a void of light. This darkness is produced by the giant concrete stick, intimidating
me as it stands there, glowering down at me. Looking upwards, a small light flashes across my eye. Fear creeps up my spine. Before I get myself into too much bother,
I notice it’s just the moon’s reflection in a shard of glass from the old lamp at the top of the lighthouse. I breathe a sigh of relief. The iron gate up ahead squeaks eerily as it wobbles on its hinges. I push it open, the metal still warm from today’s sun, and walk slowly into the cosy courtyard that lies at the foot of the lighthouse. The crumbling walls guarding the courtyard act as a shield, protecting me in a bubble from the suffocating wind and ruthless cold. I start to relax a little, and watch the last of the sun’s rays dissolve into the watery horizon.
I watch a pair of obsidian cormorants having a diving competition in the pool of ink that I guess is the sea. It is almost peaceful, snuggled in my sleeping bag beneath the stars, staring into the heart of the moon. Feeling some level of safety, I let my tiredness consume me and soon I am sleeping soundly.
Crack! Jolted awake, I try to focus my eyes on the tree that has just been struck by lightning. Crack! Another bolt light ups the sky. I look out to the sea, no longer

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